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Portland to Seattle up the coast

Lafayette, Indiana
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Portland to Seattle up the coast

My husband and I are planning a trip to Portland/Seattle in early August and want to be sure we catch all the must-sees. We'll be in the "area" for about 6 nights/7days. We were thinking about 3 days around Portland and 3ish days around Seattle. We plan to take the coastal route when we travel between the two. What must we see both on the coastal drive and in/around Portland and Seattle? Already considering a day trip to Mount Saint Helens and a trip to Multnomah Falls. We're not looking to do serious hiking, but don't mind a short trail for novice hikers if there's something to see/experience. Not big beer drinkers so breweries wouldn't top our list. We're up for good food and amazing sights (we're from Indiana...so we are uber-impressed with anything that isn't flat land).

13 replies to this topic
Portland, Oregon
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1. Re: Portland to Seattle up the coast

Sounds like a fun trip. If you'd rather focus on natural areas and not Portland proper, suggest one day exploring the Gorge and then heading over to the oregon coast for a two day stay particularly if a coast trip is your focus. Please note that there really isnt a coastal route between Portland and Seattle. 101 in Washington isnt on the coast and not that scenic, until you get to Olympic NP-which you wont have time for. I'd highly recommend at least an overnight trip to the Northern Oregon Coast. Suggest the Cannon Beach area-however CB hotels generally require 2 night stays in summer-so you might want to consider nearby towns. The area between Cannon Beach and Manzanita is spectacular and you can easily spend a half to full day exploring the area. From CB-you can drive up to Astoria(the area is also worth exploring if you have another day) and then head east back over to I-5 and Mt St Helens and on to Seattle if you dont mind a long day.

Eugene, Oregon
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2. Re: Portland to Seattle up the coast

The coast highway 101 does not go along the coast from the Oregon/Washington border to Seattle. It goes inland.

My suggestion is that you go to the Oregon coast for a couple of days, return to Portland for a couple of days (one of which includes doing the Columbia Gorge Mt. Hood Loop, including Timberline Lodge; and then see Mt. St. Helens on your way to Seattle.

Eugene, Oregon
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3. Re: Portland to Seattle up the coast

Well, that makes two of us on the same wave length!

Port Angeles, WA
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for Olympic National Park
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4. Re: Portland to Seattle up the coast

There is no coastal route between the two. This is a common misconception, but take a closer look at the map. The highway runs almost entirely inland; for the most part you see nothing at all of the ocean. It is a slow route, and it is not scenic.

You say in your post that you have "3ish" days "around" Seattle. Does this mean that you want to spend time in Olympic National Park? If so, you will have a whole different set of rewards and difficulties to consider. If this is what you want to do, write into the Washington Forum for guidance. Otherwise, take the fastest route between Seattle and Portland, which is I-5.

If you wanted to see something unique and beautiful, you could visit Astoria and the area around mouth of the Columbia River. There are some great Lewis and Clark sites there. \

Florence, Oregon
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5. Re: Portland to Seattle up the coast

The somewhat strange situation about going from Seattle to Portland is that with all the beauty of the Pacific Northwest between the two cities is a lackluster area. Flying into one and then driving and leaving from another creates what is usually a more expensive air fare and added cost of a one way car rental. Arriving and leaving from the same airport creates a situation where if you take in both cities you backtrack through that dubious area adding 6 to 8 extra hours of driving to your trip.

For either Seattle or Portland I highly recommend creating a loop from either city and save the other one for another time especially if you only have a week or less

Portland, Oregon
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6. Re: Portland to Seattle up the coast

Eddie-- good points to consider for logistics and budget. If Seattle and Portland cities are are a must see, then by all means continue focusing on both areas. If a true coastal visit is what you are interested, suggest flying into/out of Portland. I think of WA as more accessible mountain landscapes while Oregon has a more accessible coastline.

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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7. Re: Portland to Seattle up the coast

Hello RyanandMegan, welcome. With only 6/7 days, I might suggest *either* Seattle or Portland, but not both.

In either city, you could spend 3 days in the city and then 3 days seeing beautiful natural attractions outside the city -- whether those be coast, mountains, desert or all three!

Canby, Oregon
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8. Re: Portland to Seattle up the coast

Echoing others here about picking Seattle or Portland as a starting point.

Since you are from Indiana I’m sure you want to see beautiful coast line. If you cut out Seattle then I would suggest that you drive down I-5 to Eugene then west to Florence.

From Florence turn North and 101 pretty much hugs the coast to Astoria. Along the way stop at Sea Lion Caves, not necessarily to see sea lions, but to view Heceta Head Lighthouse from their parking lot.

Then stop at Cape Perpetua Ranger station and take relatively short walks to sea blow hole and Devils Churn.

If you’re adventurous hike to the top of Cape Perpetua or you can drive up. Can see about 35 miles north and south on a clear day.

Further on stop in Newport, you’ll see plenty of sea lions there. Stop at Yaquina Head Lighthouse. You can take a tour if you want.

Continue on up stopping where you like to Astoria.

I’ve run out of time so I’ll let others give you more opinions.

Portland, Oregon
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9. Re: Portland to Seattle up the coast

All the advice above is good, but since I grew up in Indiana (Michigan City), and went (briefly) to Purdue, I can channel some of your interests.

1) Go to Mt Hood and Timberline Lodge -- best to do this as a day or 2-day trip out of Portland, combined with the Columbia Gorge. If you're adventurous, go on a rafting trip down the Deschutes River out of Maupin.

2) Go to the Oregon coast (Cannon Beach, probably), again either for the day or overnight and dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean -- nothing like it.

3) Go to Mt St Helens, but only if the weather is good. This is a day trip, but can be combined with the drive to Seattle if you leave **very** early from Portland.

IMO, in August it's too damn hot in the desert, and you'll get a taste on the drive from Hood River to Maupin.

Here's my condensed suggestion:

Day 1) Arrive PDX; Stay somewhere downtown;

Day 2) See PDX -- brewpubs, Pearl District, gardens if that's your thing;

Day 3) Columbia Gorge, Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks, etc to Hood River, stay overnight in Hood River or The Dalles;

Day 4) Get up early, drive to Maupin for 1/2 River Rafting (or full day), then drive to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. Maybe stay there, or drive back to Portland

Day 5) Drive to Cannon Beach, stay ovenight

Day 6) Back to Portland, enjoy Portland a bit more, have a great meal, stay downtown

Day 7) PDX

Substitute St Helens for coast if the weather is stellar.

Edited: 15 January 2018, 21:38
Portland, Oregon
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10. Re: Portland to Seattle up the coast

When in Portland, check out the Japanese Gardens (wonderful views of the city), The Rose Gardens, The Zoo, The Arboretum, etc. They're all in the general "Forest Park" area. It's not flat, and yet rather close to the city.The city is divided roughly into four parts SW, NW, SE and NE. Most of the special restaurants are in neighborhoods found in NW, SE or NE. If you are going to do some time in Forest Park, you might want to make your way to a restaurant in NW afterwards, an easy walk down. Check out restaurants in the 23rd area and the like. There are, of course, some good restaurants in SW, as well. But the university and the business district take up a great deal of that space -- serving a "poor" student population and a "lunch mostly" business crowd. If you tell us your tastes in food and your budget, we all can give you some solid recommendations, I am sure.

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